Mars has been an object of interest for the better part of this century. To a biologist, Mars assumes special importance because many aspects of the theory of chemical evolution for the origin of life can be tested there. The central idea of this theory is that life on a suitable planet arises through a process in which the so-called biogenic elements combine to form increasingly more complex molecules under the influence of naturally-occurring energy sources ultimately resulting in the formation of replicating organic molecules. The biogenic elements are present on Mars today. Furthermore, the available evidence also strongly suggests that Mars may have had an early history similar to that of the Earth, including a period in which large amounts of liquid water once flowed on its surface and a denser atmosphere and higher global temperatures prevailed. This is important since many lines of evidence indicate that living organisms were already present on the Earth within the first billion years after its formation at a time when the environment on Mars may have closely resembled that of Earth. Our current knowledge of the state of chemical evolution on Mars can best be described as paradoxical. Most of what we have learned has come from experiments performed on the Viking landers. The combination of planned investigations covered a broad range of techniques to detect signs of chemical evolution. The most surprising data from all of these was the absence of any detectable quantities of organic compounds at the two landing sites. On the other hand, the Viking experiments did indicate that the Martian surface samples contained unidentified strong oxidant(s) that could account for their absence.